Archives for the month of: January, 2016

I feel a series coming on:  God v. The Machine.  During the past few months, this topic has been close to my heart, and if you are reading this post, I bet the same could be said for you.

 

So what is The Machine?  The Machine is the inner mechanics of today’s typical corporate and industry infrastructure.   It’s a dehumanizing system characterized mainly by greed and designed with the primary goal of achieving monetary gains.  The Machine is usually comprised of large conglomerates, including, but not limited to, the banks, retail chains, the credit card industry and insurance companies.  The Machine has far reach and deep pockets.  It’s fueled by power and vices.  When dealing with The Machine, you are no longer considered a person.  You are a number, a means to an end—its end.

 

Okay, so my definition of The Machine was a little vague and somewhat cryptic—sort of!  Here are some practical examples of The Machine at work:

 

  • Trying to resolve a credit/financial dispute but cannot progress beyond the hold times and transferals
  • Trying to resolve a legal dispute, but the cost of legal counsel is more than you make in a year.
  • Trying to resolve an insurance claim dispute, but get bogged down by insurance submission codes.

 

Do you get the picture?  I wonder how much time the average person wastes trying to resolve issues that should rightfully take no more than a fraction of the time spent.  How many times are people needlessly spun in circles due to purposeful or inadvertent ineptitude?  Many of us know what it is like to spend consecutive hours (or sequential days) on the phone with customer service representatives only to find out that, not only was our issue unresolved, but that we have to restart our attempt for resolution because the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing.  This, my friend, is the modus of operandi of The Machine.  The Machine is not above threats, scare tactics or bullying.  Why would it be?  The Machine has the resources to defend and protect itself.  The Machine is backed by money, lobbyists, and in some case, even the law.  So how could a mere commoner go up against the power of The Machine?

 

The personification of The Machine makes it seems as though The Machine is a sci-fi entity that exists independently of a host.  It is not.  Unfortunately, many of the people who comprise The Machine are people just like you and me who have bought into the ideology of the system.  For example, when an insurance agent denies an individual’s life-saving procedure simply because of protocol, then, that individual has become a part of the inner workings of The Machine—a part of the problem.

 

 

So, where is God in all of this?  Surely God must be aware of the injustices of our World Systems?  The injustices of The Machine begs many questions.  Firstly, is The Machine greater than God?  Secondly, is God influenced by The Machine? Lastly, is God idly watching as the Machine assert its power?  The answers to those questions are best found in Scripture.

 

Deuteronomy 10:17 says, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes,” (NLT).  When referencing Jesus, Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “The government will rest on his shoulders.  And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7His government and its peace will never end,” (NLT).

 

God is not afraid of the cable company.  He cannot be bought by the Insurance or Banking industries.  He is just and impartial.  The wealth of those on Earth are merely temporal.  I believe that God is concerned about the treatment of His people.  Furthermore, I also believe that God is on high alert regarding the mistreatment of His people.  Our Earthly treasures are meant to edify and to uplift, not to depression and/or oppress.  According to the Word of God, we should:

17Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life. 20Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness.  May God’s grace be with you all (1 Timothy 6: 17-21, NLT).

 

My prayer for you today is that if you find yourself in a position of oppression, petition to the God who is God of ALL gods and Lord of ALL lords.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 that God’s power works best in weakness.  Paul further stated,  “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10).  It’s during our weakest moments when God can prove to be our biggest advocates.

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“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it,” (Hebrews 13:12, NIV).

 

This weekend marked the 28th annual Las Olas Art Fair.  It was my second time attending the event.  The first time was a few years ago.  This year, I was astonished by the magnitude of the talent displayed. Most of the artists were locals.  However, some had journeyed quite a distance to display their artwork in this local art fair in Downtown, Fort Lauderdale.  There were artists from New York, Michigan and several other states. Their sheer commitment made me wonder how many of the artists had actually made a career of their passion.

 

I spent most of afternoon trying to avoid the crowd.  I walked along the sidewalk and admired the displays from a distant.  The only time I would step into the streets, and into a booth was if something in particular caught my eye.  Occasionally, I would exchange brief pleasantries with the artists.  For the most part, most were friendly, with exception of one artist who scoffed at a passerby for taking a picture of his work.  Although most of the pieces were beautiful, and some even exceptional, nothing particular had spoken to me, at least not until I was about the exist the Fair.  While I must say that it was the artwork that initially lured me in, it was the artist that I found to be far more compelling.

 

The sculpture in the picture above was crafted by French artist Jim Lewk.  Although he was born in France, calling him a Frenchman would be a misnomer.  Jim is somewhat of a Renaissance man, having traveled and lived in various parts of the world.

 

My initial impression of Jim what that he was humble.  Had I not taken the time to engage in conversation, I would not have known the talent that lied beneath the artist.

 

Jim studied at the University of Miami and Florida State University.  He also trained in several other venues across Europe. He speaks five languages:   English, Russian, German, French and Polish.

 

For thirty minutes, Jim and I chatted.  He told me stories about  Vietnam and Nazi, Germany.  He also talked about his art.  He talked a lot about his art.  He was proud of the work he did, and he had every right to be.  His work was phenomenal.  Additionally, he had what many people lacked.  He had courage. He had the courage to pursue his passion.  How many of us can say the same?

 

As I drove home and reflected on my conversation with Jim, I marveled at how much I had learned about him in such a short time.  It reminded me how important it was that we connect with each other.  In fact, we just never know who we will meet.

For more information on the Sculpture above please contact:

Jim Lewk

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Website: www. jlewk.com

Email: jkewks@aol.com

Address:

 

2519 Abaco Ave., Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida 33133

Phone: 305-854-5027

 

Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

20 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: “This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.”  2When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3“Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.” Then he broke down and wept bitterly.  4But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the Lord: 5“Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord. 6I will add fifteen years to your life, and I will rescue you and this city from the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my own honor and for the sake of my servant David.’” 7Then Isaiah said, “Make an ointment from figs.” So Hezekiah’s servants spread the ointment over the boil, and Hezekiah recovered!  8Meanwhile, Hezekiah had said to Isaiah, “What sign will the Lord give to prove that he will heal me and that I will go to the Temple of the Lord three days from now?”  9Isaiah replied, “This is the sign from the Lord to prove that he will do as he promised. Would you like the shadow on the sundial to go forward ten steps or backward ten steps?”  10“The shadow always moves forward,” Hezekiah replied, “so that would be easy. Make it go ten steps backward instead.” 11So Isaiah the prophet asked the Lord to do this, and he caused the shadow to move ten steps backward on the sundial of Ahaz!

2Kings 20:1-11

 

The message of today is, “Lord, Remember me!”

 

“Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people; come near and rescue me,” (Psalm 106:4, NLT).

 

Remember me has become the cry of a generation of Christ Followers.  In Psalm 73:2-3, the psalmist said, “But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”

 

It is easy to look around at our world and think that God has forgotten about the promises that He has made to His people.  It seems that the wicked flourish and prevail, while the righteous cower and suffer.  Today, I challenge believers to remember who God is, and in our remembrance of Him, we ask that He remembers us!

 

While on the brink of death, Hezekiah asked God to remember him.  In humility, Hezekiah pleaded with God for his deliverance from the clutches of death.  How many of God’s people feel as if they are on the brink of death—spiritual, financial, emotional and/or physical?  How many people feel as though God has forgot about them?

 

Romans 3 says that not one single man is righteous—not one.

 

23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood,” (Romans 3:23-25, NLT).

 

As believer, we are made righteous, not through our own doing, but through the blood of Jesus Christ.  Today, as we cry out to our Father, we should ask Him to not only remember us, but to remember His son, Jesus, and His faithfulness.  We should ask our Father in Heaven to remember the promises that He made to us through Jesus.

 

Lord, many of your people are on the brink of all sorts of deaths, and we ask that You remember them because of your Son.  God, in humility, we ask that you remember us individually as we pray to you as Hezekiah did on his death bed.

 

16When he [Jesus] came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. 17The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:  18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, 19and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.”  20He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. 21Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”

Luke 4:16-21

 

In John 14:12, Jesus told his disciples that, “anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works,” (NLT).  Therefore, we like Jesus, are called to the declarations of Isaiah 61:

 

Isaiah 61:1-3 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.  2He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. 3To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory,” (NLT).

 

Lord, I ask you to remember us because we have a job to do, which is to bring glory to your name!

It’s the little moments that comprise the big picture. Sometimes, you just have to zoom out!